Arab perspectives on Iraq War

Jeff Bone
Mon, 17 Mar 2003 08:53:39 -0600

I love to read ArabNews.  Great way to "triangulate" away the spin in=20
our own media.

This came across the wire today:

One thing in particular worth commenting on.  The article claims that=20
one of our goals is:

>  =95 Dividing Iraq into three petty states, a Sunni state, a Shiite=20
> state and a Kurdish state and drawing up new shared borders with Iran,=20=

> Turkey and Syria.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  A recent (circa fall) book=20
called War Plan Iraq:  Ten Reasons Against War With Iraq [1] includes a=20=

nice, detailed, comprehensive history and timeline of the our=20
involvement / conflict with Iraq from the late 70s onwards and=20
discusses this issue of what kind of government we actually want there.=20=

  (This is a well-researched book with lots of high-quality references=20=

and sources, highly recommended.)  As it turns out, one of the prime=20
objectives not just of this administration but also the past two=20
American administrations has been preventing the fragmentation of Iraq.=20=

  Indeed, we've worked AGAINST significant and populist regime-change=20
there.  Apparently we view a popular Iraqi government as a threat, and=20=

division of Iraq into independent ethnic / religious units as=20
geopolitically disastrous.

Particularly, we view the idea of the creation of an independent,=20
autonomous Kurdistan as a serious destabilizer.  Turkey (as well as=20
Iran, and Syria) all have significant Kurdish populations, and we don't=20=

want to stir the pot with our "friends" in Turkey.  As recently as last=20=

week we reiterated to the Turks that we would not allow this to happen.

In fact, historically it's only recently that we've started using the=20
language "regime change" -wrt- Iraq.  What we really want there is not=20=

regime change per se, and certainly not a truly democratic Iraq, but=20
rather a Saddam replacement who will maintain the balance of power,=20
keep the Sunni minority in power, keep Iraq unified and=20
tightly-managed, but will be more pliant to the wishes and goals of the=20=

West.  Our ideal candidate has always been an "iron-fisted military=20
man" from within Saddam's cabinet, if possible.  We want this so bad=20
that on numerous occasions over the last twelve years we've worked=20
AGAINST credible efforts to overthrow Saddam (either through inaction=20
or in some cases by direct action.)

On the whole, this conflict is very complex.  It'll be interesting to=20
see what kind of government we end up installing there, but I'd wager=20
that the Arab fears of multiple ethnic and religious states arising is=20=

minimal.  Far more likely a long-term occupation followed by a return=20
to a military dictatorship, albeit one "blessed" (like Saddam=20
originally was) by the U.S., one that (again like Saddam) is secular=20
and viewed, at least initially, as moderate.